Notes: Chapter 10
1. Not merely in the sense of turning analog dollars into digital pennies, as Jeff Zucker famously said, but in the sense that it’s a totally different world, one in which what companies have to say gets drowned out by the more interesting things we talk about with one another. And a world in which trying to push one’s message or acting hip on Social Media will only make things worse. One of my favourite cases of a company trying to exploit the dynamics of the Web and Social Media comes from Kellogg’s, which is giving away free spoons with one’s name engraved on them and is asking people to share their “selfies with their spoons“. A selfie with a spoon? Wow. How do you call this? Chris Locke of Cluetrain fame spoke of MTDs, or Marketing Transmitted Delusions.
2. 15 percent said that folks can market to us; 46 percent said it depends on the context and 39 percent said never. Furthermore, only .51 percent of “Likers” actually posted any brand-related content of any kind, including so much as a single comment. Even so-called high-interest brands, such as Harley-Davidson, Ford Mustang, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Jack Daniels all registered below 1 percent. Garfield and Levy, Can’t Buy Me Like, pages 118-119.
3. Sure, Coca-Cola scored big with their “Happiness Machine” videos. But the Pepsi Refresh Project, apart from not helping Pepsi sell more sugary water, was blasted, their effort accused of being similar to the phony corporate social (ir)responsibility campaigns of tobacco companies. United Airlines had big problems of its own with the YouTube hit song “United Breaks Guitars”. And so did McDonald’s, with #McDStories, the hashtag Forbes called a bashtag.
4. Please see Garfield, Bob, The Chaos Scenario, page 196.
5. As I wrote back in 2010: In the meantime, beneath the friendly “web2.0″ pose, life goes on as usual at Big Corp. Pr flacks push hard to sell their story to newspapers, and perhaps put on hold ad spending if the paper does not comply; negative blog posts are more often than not dealt with by lawyers; and nobody inside the company gets to do any talking except those who have long forgotten how to speak in a human voice. But you have a tag-cloud on your website, and a thousand fans on Facebook, and followers on Twitter. Life is good, and there’s no need to change. No need to change Big Corp’s company culture; no need to confront the market; no need to be open and down to earth and accessible; no need to fearlessly show on your website what is being said about you online on blogs and Twitter and no need to let your employees take part in the conversation; no need to be interesting and friendly so that thousands of people will happily spread the good news about you to thousands of their real friends and followers. With a nice “web2.0″ mask on you can fool yourself that there’s no need (for now) to face up to the fact that Obama, not Eisenhower, is now President and we’re not in 1950 anymore.
6. McLuhan would have loved this: the only real message is the fact that you use Social Media. Many companies seem to have taken this too literally, in the misplaced hope that it would be enough to be hip.
7. See Parker, George, Confessions of a Mad Man. There is nothing wrong with ads, as long as they are smart. And there is nothing good with Social Media just because it’s Social Media – sorry, Marshall McLuhan! – especially not if what you use it for is dumb or exploitative. Another great adman who understood that people had a knack for advertising and who hated the patronising attitude of most advertising agencies was George Lois: “Too much advertising is predicated on the snobbish assumption that people are dumb, so why give them smart advertising?”, Lois, George, What’s the Big Idea?, pages 59-62.
8. See Collier, Mack, Think Like a Rock Star. Another book worth reading on the subject is of course Seth Godin’s The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.
9. Patagonia’s mission is real, unlike many other companies’: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Bogusky and Winsor, Baked In: Creating Products and Businesses That Market Themselves, pages 51-2. Patagonia is certainly not your average company: they have even run ads that said “Don’t buy this jacket” (unless you really need it, of course).
10. According to Professor Pabst, that “community of interest” can be seen in all those people who drove around with Fina’s pink valve cap fitted to their car; followed John F. Stahl’s walk to Seattle; wore their Beethoven Sweatshirts or, being avid Mozart fans, formed their own sub-community “The Wolfgang Club”; the thousands who wrote in to Eagle Shirts with their suggestions on a use for the shirtkerchief or a new colour to describe the range; and the amateur aerospace engineers who entered wholeheartedly into the madness of the paper airplane competition. All of them, clipping the coupons and playing their part, were finding togetherness and a shared sensibility. Harrison, Steve, Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man, pages 105-6.
11. Gossage never did Tv commercials, only Print ads plus some Radio ads together with comedian Stan Freberg.
12. For Qantas, see Harrison, Steve, Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man, pages 16-19; for Scientific American magazine, see Gossage, Mander and Dippel, The Great International Paper Airplane Book; for Fina, see “The Shape of an Idea and How to Draw One”, in The Book of Gossage, pages 44-58; for Eagle Shirtmakers, see Gossage, Howard Luck and Harris, Miller, Dear Miss Afflerbach.
13. Now Only You Can Save Grand Canyon From Being Flooded… For Profit. See Harrison, Steve, Changing the World is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man, pages 114-118.
14. Why I am going to: 1) Wear a black tie; 2) Drive with my lights on in broad daylight; & 3) Keep it up until this war is stopped. See “Two More Rules Gone to Hell”, The Book of Gossage, pages 184-197.
15. Please see for example Slide 6 of Nielsen’s 2014 The Total Audience Report. Others, like MarketingCharts, report a higher decline over time, but not a collapse, and no change at all among the (moneyed) over-50 crowd.
16. How do I know? Have you ever taken a hard look at how books about the Social Media “revolution” are promoted That’s right: not with Twitter or a Facebook Page, but by reaching out to journalists in the mainstream media.